As always, Clinton presented a very interesting and informative demonstration on dwarf species and in particular, a dwarf Banksia serrata, known as Cape York variety at the nursery.

Clinton pointed out that some banksias are better than others when it comes to bonsai. This variety has a short natural internodal length and by working it from the start will circumvent many problems later.

  • Clinton’s take home points for this banksia and indeed, all banksia, are:
  • Put movement into the trunk because they can be straight. If you want nice bends then you need to dramatically cut the trunk. Banksia can be cut back to bare wood (August/September) if needed to restructure the tree. There won’t be a problem with shooting back.
  • Trunks are one of the Banksia serrata’s beautiful features so lower branches should be removed to show off the base. Remove these branches early because they take vigour from the tree and hinder tapering.
  • Excessive budding is a gift and a curse. Banksia bud profusely at one point so need to be controlled early, otherwise large knuckles develop and spoil taper. Choose the best two branches for the structure and line of the tree and remove the rest at that point. Always remove ugly branches as something will always replace them. (As banksias mature, at 20 years or thereabouts, the rampant budding seems to slow down.)
  • Banksias can get top heavy, so avoid excess development in the crown. Do not let the top branches grow excessively if they are not the leader, or you will have years of correction.
  • Banksia serrata grow through autumn and winter but slow down in summer.
  • Wire when the branches start to bark up.
Ray's Banksia serrata, Cape York ready to move forward.

Ray’s Banksia serrata, Cape York ready to move forward.